Category Archives: general

Battling Writer’s Block? Here’s What You Can Do

Whether you write to live or live to write, there will be days when it is not only tough to get started, but even tougher to continue. Those times can be quite frustrating and dispiriting, sometimes leading talented and enthusiastic scribes to throw in the towel.

Here are a few ideas that can help to get those creatives juices flowing once more:

Try a Different Spot

Not getting anywhere in your current location? Maybe you need a change of scenery. Do you tend to write in public? Then go somewhere private for a change.

Try a New Time

Tend to write in the evening? Switch to the break of dawn. Sometimes our brains are at a different place at various times of the day, and that new period just may be a more creative one for you.

Try a New Medium

Do you use a computer to write? Maybe it’s time to go old school and switch back to pen and paper. Conversely, maybe you have been putting off computer use and it’s time that you finally plunged in and learned how to use Microsoft Word. It may just be psychological, but sometimes the method your words are preserved with can make a difference in how effectively they come out.

Take a Vacation from Writing

Don’t see this as a defeat, but as a way to recharge your creative batteries. Sometimes you just need to forget about something that isn’t working and concentrate on the things in life that are. Don’t worry, chances are your inspiration will come back to you.

Try a New Project

Words not flowing on a project that is very important to you? Put it aside for the time being and concentrate your efforts on something that matters less. This just might be the break that will help to get you back on track.

Why It’s Important to Keep Busy

More and more people find themselves leading lives in which free time is a luxury. Being overly busy is not good for your health, so we need to make sure that we all have relaxation periods built into our daily schedules.

However, you can also go too far in the opposite direction. Having too little to do is also not helpful for either your mind or body. Here are a few reasons why being busy can sometimes be a good thing.

Continual Learning

It is always good to learn new things and you don’t have to go back to school for that to happen. Read a book, watch a documentary, join a local society, tour a museum…you never know what you might develop an interest in. Be open to trying new things.

Stave Off Boredom

No one likes to be bored. Boredom is not productive or satisfying on a personal level. Why not spend your downtime doing something productive? Make the effort to do something.

Keeps Your Brain Active

Scientific research has shown that it is important to keep your mind engaged. It can help to stave off degenerative brain issues, such as dementia. Read, do cross word puzzles, engage friends in conversation…every little bit helps.

Impress Your Supervisor

It is not always possible to remain busy at work at all times. However, the most productive and engaged employees find ways to make good use of those extra moments in a way that aids the company. Supervisors notice and remember employees who make that extra effort.

Distract Yourself from Problems You Can’t Currently Deal With

Sometimes we have issues in our lives that cause us stress (e.g. a terminally ill relative), but there is nothing we can currently do about them. One way to deal with any stress or depression that results is to distract yourself from the pain. This can be done by keeping busy with other endeavors.

Why It’s Good to Have a Hobby

Many people have hobbies, but don’t realize that they can also be a very important aspect of their life. Hobbies are something that we discover and come to find rewarding. Those that come to us naturally, rather than being forced upon us by, say, our parents, tend to be the ones that stick. After a long week of work and other responsibilities, it can be very satisfying to do something just for the fun of it.

If you ever question whether your own hobby is a waste of your time and money, some of these points may help to change your mind:

Relaxation

It is very important that we all have some time each day to unwind. Remaining in a constant state of stress is bad for both body and mind, and can actually lead to disease. Also, if you are the type of person who doesn’t like to waste time, think of a hobby as a break from life in which you actually accomplish something.

Enhanced Creativity

In addition to providing you with some solace, a hobby can also give your mind valuable stimulation that is directly related to your own interests. That can help to enhance your creativity, not only in regards to the hobby, but other areas of life.

Concentrating on a hobby not only helps you to learn more about that past time, but about other things that can also be useful to you in ways you might not expect.

Connection

Almost all hobbies offer new chances for connection. Whether you are seeking out people who may help you expand a collection or linking up with others have who similar interests, hobbies provide a way to expand your circle of friends. That means more opportunities to learn and grow as a person. And, yes, to have more fun!

Lunch is More Important Than You Might Think

Right from childhood you have probably heard about how important breakfast is. It’s the first meal of the day and a key to starting off right by giving your body the energy boost it needs. So, how important is lunch? If I eat a really big breakfast, do I even need to bother with lunch?

Well, yes you do! Lunch is actually quite relevant when it comes to giving you the lift needed to perform well for the rest of your day.

Most people have breakfast several hours before they sit down for lunch. During that time, your body has been using the nutrients you took in from that initial meal. Your blood sugar levels have dropped and that reduces both your energy level and your ability to concentrate and do good work. These are both renewed by a healthy midday meal. Regular meals on a familiar schedule also help to keep your metabolism active, which is good for your bodily functions.

If you are looking to lose some weight, skipping lunch can seem like an easy strategy. However, this is actually a bad idea as your body will simply crave food even more. That can lead to giving into temptation when faced with easy, empty calories like junk food and unhealthy snacks.

There is also the relaxation factor. A busy day can mean cutting back on free time, but skipping lunch is bad for both body and mind. Even a lunch break of only 30 minutes can provide your brain with the relaxation, rest, and distraction it needs to deliver the kind of performance you need to finish the day on an upswing. It may be tempting to keep working right through lunch, but resist and take that time off that you need. Your work and overall health will reflect that extra consideration.

How is Canadian Thanksgiving Different from the One in America?

Canadians and Americans both have Thanksgiving each year and some of the traditions are the same, like the traditional turkey dinner and pumpkin pie for dessert. However, each country celebrates them in a different month and there are a few other differences as well.

Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October, so it’s out of the gate first. However, the country also apparently was first, period, when it came to Thanksgiving, with the original celebration taking place in 1578. That’s about four decades before America decided to join in the fun.

However, unlike America, the Thanksgiving holiday is not statutory throughout the entire country: Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador all leave it up to individual employers as to whether employees will get the day off. While they do get the holiday, many people in Quebec don’t bother to observe it, preferring traditions more directly related to their own culture and traditions.

One major difference between the two countries is the shopping angle. America celebrates Thanksgiving in the last week of November and that includes the infamous Black Friday shopping spree where many companies offer major discounts for consumers. There is no Thanksgiving equivalent to this in Canada. However, the ongoing popularity of Black Friday (and, more recently, Cyber Monday) down south has prompted some Canadian retailers to follow suit during that same week. Hopefully, we won’t suffer the same degree of pandemonium at our stores.

One advantage Canadians enjoy here is the weather. While it can often be colder in the Great White North, the fact that our Thanksgiving occurs almost two months earlier means there is also a much better chance that our citizens can plan outdoor activities on their day off. Depending on their state, Americans are more likely to find themselves shoveling snow.

Is Public Transportation Safe for Women?

Women are much more likely to suffer sexual harassment than their male counterparts. Also, because of their image as the so-called weaker sex, they are also more likely to be victims of robbery or violent crimes.

Personal safety can depend on a number of factors, not the least of which is location: where you live can determine how safe you are in public. In general, riding in a car is safer than taking the bus or riding the subway. The reason is simple: you are alone in a personal vehicle or sharing it with people you know and trust. Public transportation means being around many more people you do not know and, therefore, might not be trustworthy. While this may make some men uncomfortable, the threat is likely more tangible for a woman.

On top of that, there is the question of actually getting to the transportation in question. If a bus or subway stop is not near the place the woman is leaving, there is the potential of danger, particularly if she is alone and it is at night.

All of these points are unfortunate. In addition to the threat possibilities, that lack of safety can cause some women to restrict their travel. That can limit their possibilities for both personal and professional growth.

Various strategies have been tried to increase the safety of women using public transportation, including segregated travel options.  Another is to include more staff members on buses and subways to act as both a deterrent and a form of assistance that can respond to an incident faster than police.

One possibility that would seem highly effective is to design public transportation with the needs of women in mind. This approach has been adopted in several areas and received praise for increasing a woman’s safety under such circumstances. Having more women employed in transportation service professions can also provide benefits: they will be able to clearly point out areas they feel are lacking in safety.

 

Never Store These Things in Your Basement

Basements are the go-to places for storage in most households. When was the last time you looked around yours? I’ll bet you have things dating from your childhood stashed down there. It’s a convenient place for getting things out of sight and out of mind, and you don’t have to pay a storage fee for a locker.

That said, there are some things that you should never put into a basement.

Important Papers

The first thing that people worry about with basements is floods. These can certainly destroy documents. However, you must also worry about heat. Prolonged exposure to heat can cause paper to yellow. Unless your basement is climate controlled and you live in an area where floods are few and far between, find a place upstairs for your papers.

Electronics

These are in the same boat as documents. Moisture is bad for them, as is extreme heat. If you have an old DVD player you don’t use anymore, donate it or drop it off for recycling.

Certain Fabrics

The heartier the fabric, the better it will do in the basement. Keep delicates upstairs as they will not survive an onslaught by moths, mice, or mold.

Musical Instruments

Moisture is the friend of no musical instrument. No matter what you play, storing it in a damp environment can lead to warping, mold, and/or rust.

Natural Wood Items

Another example of something that does not do well in a damp environment. Warping and mold damage can ruin the aesthetic and financial value of any natural wood item that is stored incorrectly.

Candles

Candles are, of course, designed to melt but you want them to do that at the right time. Leaving candles in a hot basement will result in you finding nothing but big lumps of wax.

Hopefully not a shot of your basement!

What Can Cause Home Improvement Projects to Stall?

We all want our homes to look great and reflect our tastes and design preferences. If you have a fixer upper, that might mean a considerable amount of work on your part. However, even the most ambitious home improvement fans can run into trouble once in a while. So, what could possibly cause your ambitious renovation to come to a stop?

  • Relationship change. Many times, couples buy a home and launch a renovation project. However, if that relationship sours, the home improvements can stall in the wake of more pressing concerns. If one partner leaves the relationship, the other might not have the funds to continue on their own.
  • Money woes. You may enter into a project with a plan and a budget, but unforeseen things can take place that add additional expenses. Supplies might not be available and the substitutes cost considerably more, you lose a contractor and the only one available wants double, etc. Try to factor such possibilities into your budget before you start.
  • Frustration. Many people like the challenge and saving that comes from doing it themselves. However, you may find that you have bitten off more than you can chew and the renovations are taking much longer than you planned. Perhaps that window you had set aside for the work has closed and you no longer have the time available?
  • Permit expiration. Depending on what you are planning on doing, you might need to get permits from your local government. The majority of these permits have expiration dates. If you don’t get done before the time allotted, you will have to delay, abandon that part of the job, or apply for an extension.

Home improvement delays can be quite disappointing. It is impossible to account for every occurrence, but try to plan your budget and time schedule with as much detail as possible. Nobody likes to plan for the worst, but try to think about what could go wrong so you will know what to do it something does.

Are Mancaves Hindering Male Maturity?

As a man, I know first hand (and will openly admit) that men tend to mature, shall we say, a bit later than women. In fact, in many cases, it seems to be a lot later. I was a bit of late bloomer in that regard myself, but now that I have crossed the threshold of having a partner, a child, and a stable job, I can look back on those lost years as time wasted.

And yes, I had a mancave. When I shared a house with three other people, I appropriated a room and made it my own in the prototypical bachelor fashion: it was a mess and it served no other function than to provide me with a spot where I could eat, drink, and watch movies and sports that my housemates had no interest in. It’s just as well for them that they didn’t want to come in as the room eventually had several genuine safety hazards between the rotting food and piles of junk everywhere.

This space meant a lot to me at the time. I could escape from my lousy job and tiresome responsibilities, and just do what I enjoyed. What I didn’t realize at the time was this escape was hindering my growth as a person. Yes, we all need a break from work and family and other things that can be stressful. However, it is important to find ways of doing that which do not cause us to become stuck. Life is about experiences and learning and growing as a person; I wasn’t doing that and I regret the time I lost as a result.

Should mancaves exist? Sure, but it is important to know when you have outgrown them and need to advance to the next part of your life.

By Keyah Cheatum (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons